Thinking of Studying in the UK?

By Karen Lee

(Published on 26 July 2021)

UK application process at a glance

Students apply to universities through the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (“UCAS”). It is a centralised portal for operating the application as well as gaining admissions information and advice.

Photo credit: UCAS
Photo credit: UCAS

The process for international students is as follows:

  1. Decide on a degree course
  2. Search for universities that offer the course
  3. Choose up to five university courses
    (four for Medicine, Dentistry and Veterinary courses)
  4. Receive offers back from universities
  5. Decide your “Firm” and “Insurance” choices
  6. Meet your offer requirements to secure your place
  7. Arrange visa and accommodation

I’m going to zoom in on the UK admissions factors and offer some further explanations:

#1: It is major-driven

In the US, you don’t need to decide your major of study at the time of application, but you have to show your interest in that particular college. Things are different in the UK; students have to declare their degree course upfront. You are not applying to just the university but also to a specific programme within that university. As a result, the UK pathway would be a good fit for students with clear academic interests and goals.

#2: Academic foundation is key

Most UK courses have subject pre-requisites and require specific grades or scores in individual subjects at high school (e.g. A-levels, IB or equivalent). So you’ll need both good grades and the right subject combination for successful entry. While US colleges often require standardised test scores in SAT or ACT, these are not usually required by UK universities. Instead, you’ll need to take subject-specific admissions exams for specialised programmes. For example, UK universities require UCAT or BMAT for undergraduate medicine entry.

#3: Getting your essay right

In your US essay, you explain what attracts you to a particular college and how you would contribute to the student community. By contrast, your UK personal statement should highlight your passion and suitability for your chosen course. Here is an excellent guide from LSE to drafting your personal statement.

#4: The power of supercurriculars

Don’t underestimate the power of extracurriculars for UK admissions. Here the focus is on “supercurriculars”, i.e. activities outside of the classroom but are relevant to your course.

Examples include wider reading, internships and seminars that are centred around your desired field of study. These activities will highlight you from the crowd, especially if you are applying to selective courses.


About The Edge

The Edge Learning Center is Hong Kong’s premier Test Preparation, Academic Tutoring, and Admissions Consulting services provider. Founded in 2008, The Edge has helped thousands of students improve their ACT and SAT scores as well as their IB and AP grades. The AC team has just finished off another successful period in which students gained acceptance to schools such as Columbia, Yale, UChicago, and more! Check out our latest Admissions Results!

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